tv Communicators at Alhurra and Radio Sawa CSPAN August 13, 2016 6:30pm-7:04pm EDT
announcer: here on c-span, "the is next, with broadcast organizations that share news around the world. that is followed by a discussion on the magna carta and its impact on the u.s. institution -- constitution, and at 8:00, we take a look at trade deals and their impact on trade roads and the u.s. economy. announcer: this week on "the we visit the," middle east broadcast network headquarters in virginia. some 27vide news to million people in the arab world as well as a u.s. perspective on terrorism and democracy. it is funded by congress. we talked to executives and producers who work at alhurra and radio sawa.
, and the channels alhurra channel. also, we have eight radio sawa streams, websites, and numerous social media platforms. ?> why alhurra >> well, alhurra was launched back in 2004. this was on the tail end of the iraq war. there was a believe that the focused, iraq-centric information -- there was a need to broadcast local news on iraq. with the middle east, there was the arab channel. budget andis the employees? >> mbn is about 600
employees, both here in the u.s. -- we have correspondents in the middle east and in europe, too, with a budget of about $110 million that has held relatively constant in recent years to support the different activities. we have retained the staffing with, but we have done so allocation to accommodate and adapt to some of the changes that have occurred in the communications in the middle area particularly in the of digital media. >> what kind of technology do you use? >> we have an hd channel. the standard definition channels. delivery,tellite which is a benefit to us, because we are among the most popular channels in the middle east, which allows the audiences to tune us in in an unfiltered way. on satellite channels are fm
radio, in those countries where we are allowed to have an fm on the worldwe are wide web, available to anyone, not just people in the middle east. what so potentially, how big is your audience? abler audience as we are to measure it -- we cannot measure it in all of the countries we are in. it is about 26 million, 27 million. that is people who consider our products on a weekly basis. the largest portion of that audience is tv, which is about 17 million. the radio audience is about 12 million, and the rest is digital audience. what is the mission of mbn? to the arabics
speaking middle east. we support values by creating a broader spectrum of values and perspectives that would normally be available to the audience through indigenous media in the region. >> as an arm of the u.s. government, can you be critical of u.s. policy? >> certainly, we can. we are a private company. we received a grant to support editorial, but our questions and issues are independent of the government. newsworthyhat is based on our own internal staff. our news programs are driven by news events, and a lot of the programs are driven by what we believe are the issues that we can add values. as i said before, we support
democratic values, so we explore topics that other channels would not, such as democracy, women's rights, government corruption, so forth. frequently, those topics are taboo in the local media. conniff, what are the missions of mbn? is it to counter islamic extremism? a broader mission and a broader component of the content that we pursue today, so i would not say it was our mission, but the rise of violent extremism in the middle east is the dominant issue facing the middle east. it may be the dominant issue facing the world. >> is in a perception that it is u.s. government propaganda? brian: on some people's minds, that is the case.
we have been on the air for 12 years now, and over that period of time, i think the audience has come to learn it is not propaganda. balanced, ando be we also provide topics and information that is not readily available. american perspective. we do not promote the administration's agenda or policy, but we do promote discussion about it. we have think tanks and academic organizations, and it is a of what theysation are not going to get from other media outlets, so at times, it could be seen as critical, but it also shows that in america, we can discuss issues, that people are not always in agreement, and this is part of the american democratic i think is onech
of our important topics. >> the importance of social media. brian: it cannot be overstated. it is growing rapidly, even beyond my anticipation. i heard a statistic last week that in iraq, over 50% of the population in iraq, the adult population, accessed the internet in the past week, which is a phenomenal statistic, and as a result, we have a robust presence on the various east.rms in the middle facebook is the preferred platform. all of our facebook pages have followers in the realm of 13 million people, 14 on aon people, and we have monthly basis, a monthly 1.7age, we have about
reactions, a facebook term, people engaging on the topic. a have millions of views on monthly or average basis. it is rapidly becoming the important way to get to the audience. >> are you letting people who watch mbn see the presidential election here? brian: absolutely. this is our third presidential election since we have been on the air, so it is a tremendous opportunity for us to show democracy in action this year may be more than prior years, and it is a process that we cover the selection of a candidate, the primaries, the conventions, the actual campaigns themselves. they enjoy that. they cannot fathom, because it does not happen in that region. we have a peaceful transition from one administration to the next. i think it is one of the great
benefits. we present it in a way that other arab outlets do not have the capacity or the understanding to do. >> are there any countries that ?rohibit alhurra prohibitsl, nobody the radio, because it does come in through a satellite. there are some countries that do not make it easy. , andare just dangerous they limit our ability to move , and others, but we have the ability to report from almost every country. it sounds a little different because people listen to radio primarily from fm, and we have a and anumber of fm's, number of countries will not give us a frequency to allow us
to broadcast despite our efforts to the contrary, so that does limit it a little bit. with digital media, people can now stream satellite. if they do not have an fm. the driving force used to be digital in the middle east, and it is opening up new horizons for us. hura" andrds "al "sawa"? srian: "alhurra" meand together. >> working with the administration question what brian: as i said, we are a private company. we are accountable to our stakeholders. the administration requests the budget, and congress appropriate the money, so we answer to them,
and when they have questions, we but they respect our editorial independence, and i have never had a case in 10 years where someone from the state department or the hill has told us not to do -- and they give us the ability to have an independent editorial approach ,o these very difficult issues and the system works. the system of giving us a grant and allowing us to practice with all proper due diligence of journalism. ♪ >> what is this? >> it is a three-hour news and information and entertainment program that i launched in 2007 -- no, 2009. it is a big show.
it comes live out of dubai and cairo, and it was created to connect us from here to there. >> and what does "al yhoum" mean? "today."means ,riday is a holiday for islam so we do sunday through thursday. p.m. basically from 4:00 until 11:00 at night. >> and five different locations? including washington, d.c., and the show, what makes it unique is that it is coming out, and so we take whatever content we are talking about,
and everybody is discussing it across the region. it is a pan regional television iswork that salutes what it that we are doing, so we have that conversation. we are talking about terrorism, terrorism as it relates to , the 22orocco, countries. >> in the last week or so, taping at the end of april 2016, the last week or so, what are some of the topics that you have discussed? : well, we are discussing everything from the presidential elections, which is huge, because whoever is president will play a significant role in politics, and we have discussed syria every day, and we have to discuss syria every day, and then we discuss iraq and what is going on with isis, and as that
relates to the mideast, so we are -- unfortunately, the sad story of isis in existence and antiterrorist, it dominates a lot of the news coverage. and information, and then on the lighter side, entertainment. >> the different time frames? fran: about not having a competitor, that is a different answer, but in television time, we have, because we are a there arews network, saudi stations. they are not radical. they are very contemporary in terms of their broadcasts and television, and the tv comes out tv comesabi -- and sky
out of abu dhabi, and was upon a so much has happened to them that it is way less than they were. competitorll them a with the bbc, because they are a different kind of tv, and at the and of the day, the competitors are local. lebanese,an or local because ever since the arab spring, not before, but ever since the arab spring, a lot of them go local because of what is going on, meaning the bomb in iraq. >> are there any special issues that you deal with as a woman executive producer producing a middle east show, or do you do on issues women face in
the middle east? fran: yes. -- it hasit on my with the showdo that is a bigger mission, but for me, it is personally women and children issues. i am a mom. i have kids. world is not by our standards a friendly place, and we have done an inordinate amount of stories about the difficulties of life in the middle east. show, and i did not make up the title, but it is called "one woman is worth 100 men your quote we just launched it. there are not an of people telling stories of how difficult -- and a girl child, so
how many stories we have done on child marriage, i cannot count. married,-old's getting and why, and the traditions, and it is not some governments, do , not allowing the women to drive. that is nothing compared to your to yazidi-- girls who were determined to be sex slaves. we cannot do enough. in the middle east, they are not telling that story. it is too close to home. andmany cultural issues other issues. people look the other way. we are not going to allow that.
and against the law. something, and unbelievable statistic, and right now, egypt is so dangerous. it is completely out of control. and in my show "one woman is worth 100 men," there was a pink taxi. , and the drivers are only women who pick up only women, because there is so much sexual harassment. i try to do those stories in context to the overall mission. and the volume of content. >> one of the reporters for al youra. nashwan: we have the stories in
egypt. , in kuwait, soy in cairo correspondent and egypt. >> you are formally a journalist in iraq. how is it different here at the middle east broadcasting network? ashwan: it is much different working here and the middle east. it is friendlier. i am a news anchor. me what to sayg and what to avoid. >> now, on "the communicators," we are joined by an executive producer. what do you do? well, i just make sure we have as comprehensive a news agenda for the day as possible, make sure that we have selected
the right news items about the stories that are making headlines around the world, and for our target region, to make sure we are treating those items in the best possible way to provide accurate information, in-depth analysis, to make sure that we have a good line of questioning when we have interviews, if we have onerviews, and to follow-up the issues that are related to news making. >> how many hours of live newscasts a day on alhurra? : combine together, we have four and half hours, including the two signature shows with the news stories that punctuate the transmission at the bottom of the hour. collectively, these would add up to another one and a half hours,
so we are talking about six or seven hours that we have news coverage. ki, comparing it to your old employer, al jazeera, or another, what is the difference? would people see a difference between these different networks? absolutely. friends and family, former colleagues, of al jazeera and others. , and i think the basic difference is the narrative. i think the basic difference is that we do not have a political , soda in our newscasts content, form, and narrative and the selection of the news. everything about the newsmaking aocess is not determined by preplanned agenda.
>> where are you from originally? n: originally, i am from syria. >> when you see what is going on -- first of all, how hard is it to cover what is going on in syria? it is hard because it is an armed conflict. it is difficult because there are different international players, and it is very hard they are not allowed free access to all events and sources of information, so it is major difficulty, as with any other war or conflict in the world and throughout history for any news organization is the conflict itself. there are so many conflicting and so many parties involved in the conflict, and they all want to influence your
coverage, so it is very difficult. it takes a lot of effort on our verify, tock and pursue sources of information in a place where sources of information are very scarce. >> one of the things we have learned while we are here at alhurra is that while the broadcaster -- the control rooms are spoken in english. hassan: that is what is best practices across all newsrooms in the world. i can speak from past experience. i think because initially the system was put by english people, it is among the best toctices in the control room
select this international language of communication inside the control room, and it just works out. i would not have it any other way. >> what is your role here at the middle east broadcast networks? i oversee domestically and overseas. >> what are some of those current affairs shows that you describe? >> we have many types of shows, daily or english shows that delve into current issues, and that we have dedicated shows for , and theyhuman rights showsbout technology and and sports. ever produce programs that reflect life here in america?
leila: yes, we have a dedicated show that produces the arabs. it is dedicated for the people to see how an arabic person from any nationality, you have all parts of people, how an arab can come to this country, how he can build himself or herself if they as arabid not achieve, americans, and how they are trying to adopt between their tradition, where they come from, and socially. >> now, there have been some incidences of folks who have become u.s. citizens have attempted to fight for isis, can you do those stories, as well? eila: yes. we did have an amazing mother
who spoke about her son. she is canadian, and her son is canadian, era but canadian. she spoke about how her son joined isis, and from her, we managed to get other stories of ,eople who are in the u.s. because it is global, how they are going back and what really entice them to go there. and the same thing in the middle east. the paradise, are you editorializing? leila: yes. you just say things as they are. it is not. >> you are from lebanon originally. how different is lebanon from syria or from tunisia? we often think of it here in the u.s. as one region, but what are the differences?
leila: well, there are a lot of differences. for example, in the lebanon -- it is subjective. one of the arab world that has freedom of speech. if you want to call it freedom of speech, but better than any other arab country. sects. 18 religious it is 4 million, and we are accommodating refugees. there is on the day-to-day basis because of the war that we already had, so we have done all of that, and we are living now day-to-day. >> omar, what is your role here at the middle east broadcast? omar: i manage with digital. >> --t is the voice?
omar: it is to encourage people in the middle east to be part of the discussion of our important issues in the region, including unemployment,s, women's issues, and raise your has severales or monthly tv shows, call-in radio , and we have our digital platforms. the facebook page. instagram, all of these social .edia platforms >> so what are we looking at right here? and how do you say "raise your voice" in arabic? arabic]peaking
have, as i say, we had tv and website,ws, and the and we put all of our content for the digital platforms, anduding the facebook page, then we asked them to act with the content, and we have a team 24/seven to keep it going. people have questions about the content or the circumstances of how we got the content. this is our page. -- tweet roughly every 30 minutes, news around the world. issues in the middle east. and features and videos.
>> how extensive is the interaction that you get, and from what countries? engagement, when we started in september, from scratch, so far, more than followers on facebook alone. people are very excited to have a platform where they can actually discuss important issues and exchange ideas and thoughts with each other. otherwise, they are not able to do so on other platforms. and they are fairly eager to participate in such campaigns. voicelessvoice to the . >> what are some of the problems that can happen because of the distance? omar: well, of course. a problem, itit,
is not always reliable. sometimes we have problems with collecting, so we have to get the show out. we talked to our guests on the show through phone. problemsare logistical , but they have never stopped us from doing a show. >> if you put up here on your discuss page let's islamic extremism, what kind of response would you get to that? this, and we about do get people who are very much , some defending islam.
some tried to explain how daesh and other terror groups are using islam to commit their crimes and are affecting image of muslims around the world. sometimes we get those with , and then some come in to try to reason with them or show them how wrong they preaching, and giving examples. announcer: you have been watching "the communicators" on c-span. if you want to see some of our previous program, go to see.org.
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] atouncer: tonight, looking the economy, jobs, and the presidential election. mrs. clinton: and we will defend american job and american workers by saying no to bad trade deals like the transpacific partnership and unfair trade practices. mr. trump: the state of pennsylvania has lost one third of their manufacturing jobs since the clintons put china into the wto. announcer: the program looks at nafta, the trade agreement between the united states, mexico, and canada. mr. clinton: it causes more jobs for our people, and more democracy for our allies. announcer: a discussion on how the founding fathers viewed free trade. >> the fact is that historically, the united date simply was not a